Warrington green belt logistics hub refused against officers' advice

Plans for a national distribution centre for logistics firm Eddie Stobart in the Cheshire green belt have been refused by members against a recommendation for approval from planners.

A visualisation of the finished development in Warrington
A visualisation of the finished development in Warrington

The firm's full planning application to Warrington Borough Council sought permission for a 56,197 square metre distribution facility with 1,858 square metres of office accommodation and associated infrastructure on land north of Barleycastle Lane in the village of Appleton Thorn. 

According to a planning officers' report, Eddie Stobart had pointed to a lack of available sites and argued that refusal of the plans would mean the loss of around 730 full-time jobs which could be created in the area.

Officers advised: "The lack of alternatives to the application site lends weight to the applicant’s arguments that the economic benefits will be lost if it does not come forward."

According to the report, the site is allocated for employment provision as part of a garden suburb development in the council's emerging local plan, although officers advised this is the subject of "significant objection" and, due to the draft document's early stage of preparation, should be given "limited weight". 

Officers judged "there is general policy support for the application both locally and nationally which is a material consideration".

The report also advised that the economic benefits of the project justified the release of green belt land. 

Overall, they concluded: "On balance, it is felt that that other considerations clearly outweigh the harm to green belt in this case and that compelling very special circumstances exist which justify approval of the proposed development."

But the committee members went on to refuse the application. According to a statement from the local authority, the plans were refused because "the committee felt the economic benefits of the proposal didn't outweigh the harm to the green belt and because of concerns about the lack of consultation". 

Yesterday, it emerged that plans had been submitted for a 325,000 square metre logistics and advanced manufacturing facility in Doncaster.

In October a developer submitted revised plans for a 109,000 square metre distribution park to the south east of Kettering in Northamptonshire.

And, also in October, an outline planning application was submitted for a 480,000 square metre commercial development on a former oil refinery in the Thames Estuary.

A Planning feature on how councils are planning for new logistics facilities can be found here.


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